12 Months, 12 Countries, and What I've Learned

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The past twelve months have undoubtedly been the most exciting and interesting in my life. I've traveled the world, married my wonderful wife, and moved to a foreign country.

Traveling to twelve countries that span four Continents, you're bound to learn something. Some things I've learned aren't entirely new, just reminders of past lessons. When I travel, I am always looking for adventure. I am curious about how that culture works and what I can learn from it.

People Will Surprise You

"Don't judge a book by it's cover" has never rang more true for me than the past twelve months. All over the world people will have a skill, knowledge or kindness that will surprise you. When I was in Budapest, Hungary I was chatting with a guy that worked at a coffee shop. I collect currency of any place I travel to and was interested in what he had to say about their money. As I was leaving, he gave me a handful of coins and said "Don't worry about it". I believe if you show genuine interest in people, you'll surprise yourself on what you can do.

People Are Loyal

A huge part of who I am is always having peoples back, no matter what. It doesn't matter what kind of situation you find yourself in, eventually you'll need someone to have your back. The easiest way that I know how is when "what you do" and "what you say" are the same thing. People need to know that they can trust you in order for them to risk their neck for you.

You Can Learn Anything From Anyone

I'm constantly searching for knowledge from any perspective. Sometimes that can be the best way to find an answer that you've had difficulty finding. Attempting to step in someone else's shoes can go a long way. Seeing how someone else might view a problem set can help us solve problems quicker. Or just the way someone might look at life and their way of thinking can add value to our own lives. 

Simplicity Is Often Better

The world we live in is often times fast. Traveling to places where things are slow and simple helps keep me grounded. The important things in life sometimes get overlooked by mindless entertainment. I challenge myself everyday to spend time in the real world and connect with people. Continuing to remove clutter from my life to focus on the important things to me.

Most People Want To Share Their Story

The reason why they don't is because no one is there to listen. This is one that I've been working on for years. Truly listening is a lost art. Most of the time when we are in conversation, we are only listening enough to think of what we are going to say back to them. I think it's because of a lack of genuine interest and our culture of immediate gratification. Maybe if we slowed down and listened what people really wanted to say, we would have better communication and would know each other better.

Family Is Most Important

Everyone's definition of family is slightly different. It can be blood family, those people you've grown up with, friends, brothers in arms, among many others. I bet we can all agree that however you define family, it should be the most important. Cultivating those relationships, teaching the younger ones, learning from the older ones in your family. We gotta take care of each other.

Gratitude Is Refreshing

I think we all like to help people to a certain degree. It's my opinion that people would help others more, if people were more grateful. We've all experienced it before. You go out of your way to help someone and then all you got back in return is maybe a thanks, or something worse. When I was in Eastern Europe, I helped a gentleman teaching him something that he cared about. I could see it in his eyes during our interaction that he had be searching for this for a while. He paid for my meals, offered me gifts and the biggest of all, he showed me his gratitude. And to be clear, this man was not rich by any means, yet he felt like he needed to pay me back however he could.

People Are Sometimes Surprisingly Self-Sustaining

Many of the places I visited in the past year were slower, rural areas. What I found particularly interesting was that instead of having yards, people had gardens in and around their houses. Instead of having to go to the grocery store to get fresh veggies, all they had to do was go to the front yard and pick what they needed for that specific meal. There also seemed to be many farmers markets around as well. I believe that buying local and supporting your neighbor is a great way to give back to the community. I believe it also has a number of economic and health benefits as well.

Last Word

These are just a few lessons that I've either learned or have been reminded of the past year. It's been a great and wonderful experience to be able to travel as much as I have. As time passes, I'll reflect on other things that I've learned and share them with you.

What are some things that you have learned during your travels? Please share in the comments below.

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